Dinesh D'Souza On Why We Need Earthquakes

D'Souza reviewed a book for Christianity Today titled, Rare Earth, written by Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee, which he recommends. The answer proffered is that without earthquakes, "the planet couldn't support creatures like us." Here's my response:

I see nothing in the natural order of things that could not be fixed by God through perpetual miracles. As far as the theist is concerned the laws of nature are just that anyway, perpetual miracles. As David Hume wrote, the ordering of the world by natural laws "seems nowise necessary for God." And if divine hiddenness is invoked then there would be no one who would ever conclude God was involved if the Indonesian tsunami did not take place, precisely because it didn't happen. I wonder if Christian theists have really thought through the implications of a God who prefers the present set of natural laws that exist over constant divine miraculous maintenance. Is God lazy or something? What is there that is more valuable to God about this present ecosystem that takes precedence over human suffering? Besides, it seems obvious and even noncontroversial that the more power and influence someone has to avert suffering then the more that person has a responsibility to do something about it. If all it took was a “snap” of the fingers for God to stop that underwater earthquake which caused the Indonesian tsunami that slaughtered a quarter of a million people, then an omnipotent God is to be ultimately blamed for not doing so. And if God’s so-called “reason” for not doing so is to control over-population then a much better population control method would be to reduce our mating cycles in the first place.

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[First posted 4/28/09]

7 comments:

ismellarat said...

That's about the way I see such explanations.

Hearing "God had to do that because..." always made me wonder what even "more omnipotent" god they think must have been twisting his arm.

Nature doesn't really bother me so much (since its effects generally aren't taken personally) as does stuff like "your family's probably in Hell. God couldn't help it. They sent themselves."

Evan said...

D'souza simply is ignorant of basic scientific facts.

He says:

"Ward and Brownlee's answer to this is as simple as it is devastating. Such a world could have produced life, but it surely could not have produced creatures like us. Science tells us that our world has all the necessary conditions for species like Homo sapiens to survive and endure."

There is simply no knowledge about such worlds. We have an n of 1 which we have studied. Our knowledge of the planets and planet-sized bodies in our own solar system is so small that we simply can't say much definite about any of them but ours. Yet even that suggests that Venus and possibly Ganymede, have plate tectonics.

Additionally, there is NO knowledge about what planets and planet-sized bodies are like in other solar systems. We can see a few with extremely powerful telescopes and tell a few things about what atmospherics they may have but we know nothing about their geology.

D'Souza tells a just-so story and calls it simple and devastating. What's simple is D'Souza's understanding of science and what's devastating is his lack of understanding of this fact.

John W. Loftus said...

Think about the fact that without eartquakes the planet couldn't support creatures like us. This is both obvious and noncontroversial. Of course not! But it assumes a natural cause and effect world doesn't it? It assumes a natural world without divine interference.

The question becomes whether this answer is what we'd expect to find upon a theistic supposition and the answer is a resounding no, given what believers claim about an omni-God. Christians like D'Souza and others are taking what we've found out from plate tectonics and then concluding this reveals the creative handiwork of God, that's all. They provide little reason to suppose this is as good as their God can do in creating the world. I've even heard one Christian saying that until I can create a better one I shouldn't criticize this one. But that's utterly bogus. I can criticize the construction of a house if it was built poorly even though I cannot build one myself.

Michael Murray in his book Nature Red in Tooth and Claw argues that I must provide a detailed description of the world before I can say this present one isn't good enough. But again, we're talking about whether an omnipotent God can do better and he can do perpetual miracles.

Teleprompter said...

This topic strongly reminds me of Edward Current's video "What if God Disappeared?"

Current's character claims that if God disappeared "natural disasters would strike at random; they'd pay no regard to the religious beliefs of the people whose lives they destroy. Imagine earthquakes and tsunamis striking without mercy or warning. What a cruel and horrible world *that* would be."

Merciless, indiscriminate natural disasters. Exactly what we would expect if there is no god orchestrating the natural world.

Emily said...

John,

Thank you for pointing this out! I have attempted to argue to non-liberal Christians for a long time that the presence of miracles in the Bible is a strike against the "free will" response to the problem of evil. A god who can suspend the earth's orbit to allow the Israelites to slaughter more enemies can certainly raise an invisible wall to protect, for example,small children from being sexually abused. But all I get is a fideistic "who are you to judge God?" So frustrating....

ismellarat said...

Here are a few more things in nature that I'd rather not believe God dreamed up himself:

http://www.cracked.com/article_17199_7-most-horrifying-parasites-on-planet.html

http://www.cracked.com/article_15816_5-most-horrifying-bugs-in-world.html

http://www.cracked.com/article_16762_6-biggest-assholes-in-animal-kingdom.html

http://www.cracked.com/article_16868_6-deadliest-creatures-that-can-fit-in-your-shoe.html

http://www.cracked.com/article_16054_6-endangered-species-that-arent-endangered-enough.html

(I think you can copy each link, even though they may run off the page.)

I think the idea is that all the nasty stuff started happening after the "Fall of Man."

I wonder how creationists explain these repulsive creatures' existence. Did a good God really create them, or did they "evolve" in the 6000 years since?

Fred said...

How intelligent human beings can continue to believe that an invisible entity controls all on this planet is unbelieveable and unforgivable! This is the 21st century, we have the answers, the truth. "God"/Yahweh/Jehovah was an invention of donkey nomads that was picked up and ran with to scam billions of people over the centuries.

For goodness sake, educate anyone you know that is a god-follower! Please! For the sake of humanity!